Laura Bell Bundy, Denée Benton, and More Reveal Their Favorite Female Roles in Theatre

Lists   Laura Bell Bundy, Denée Benton, and More Reveal Their Favorite Female Roles in Theatre
 
In honor of the upcoming Double Standards concert, stars of the one-night-only event share their role models and go-to female empowerment anthems.
Double Standards
Double Standards

Some of Broadway’s powerhouse women are gearing up for an unparalleled event of music and empowerment: Double Standards, a concert at New York City’s Town Hall November 12. With the mission of promoting women’s rights, health, and empowerment, the one-night-only performance features Tony winner Jessie Mueller (Beautiful, Waitress) and her Waitress composer Sara Bareilles, Annaleigh Ashford (Tony Award for You Can’t Take It With You), Lena Hall (Tony winner for Hedwig and the Angry Inch), Tony nominee Laura Bell Bundy (Legally Blonde), four-time Tony nominee Judy Kuhn (Chess, Les Miserables, She Loves Me, Fun Home), Ana Gasteyer (The Threepenny Opera), Rosie O'Donnell (Fiddler on the Roof; Isabelle Stevenson Award), Tony nominee Denée Benton (The Great Comet), Tony nominee Liz Callaway (Baby, Miss Saigon), Ingrid Michaelson (The Great Comet), Morgan James (Motown), Linda Hart (Catch Me If You Can), Eden Espinosa (Brooklyn), Leslie Kritzer (The Honeymooners), Ingrid Michaelson (The Great Comet), Sierra Boggess (The Little Mermaid), Lesli Margherita (Matilda The Musical), Tony nominee Orfeh (Legally Blonde), Drama Desk winner Deborah S. Craig (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee), and Tony nominee Adrienne Warren (Shuffle Along).

In honor of the concert, we asked a few of the stars to talk to us about the women—fictional and real—who inspire them to be strong and to own their voices. Plus, the singers reveal their go-to female empowerment song—be prepared to make a playlist of your own.

For tickets to Double Standards, click here.

Judy Kuhn and Sydney Lucas in <i>Fun Home</i>
Judy Kuhn and Sydney Lucas in Fun Home Jenny Anderson

Judy Kuhn
The female artist you look up to: Cherry Jones
Your favorite female role in theatre and why: Fosca in Passion because she has an artists soul, a great intellect, and is so complex and misunderstood.
The song you listen to when you need some female empowerment: Laura Nyro’s “Save the Country.” “I got fury in my soul. Fury gonna take me to the glory goal.” Right on.

Linda Hart
Linda Hart

Linda Hart
The female artist you look up to: Bette Midler
Your favorite female role in theatre and why: “The mother” in Hairspray, Catch Me If You Can, and Piece of My Heart because my daughters were Laura Bell Bundy, Kerry Butler, Leslie Kritzer, and Jenn Colella. Talk about female empowerment!!
The song you listen to when you need some female empowerment: The one and only, Aretha Franklin. “Amazing Grace”!

Denée Benton
Denée Benton Evgenia Eliseeva

Denée Benton, Tony nominee
The female artist you look up to: Oprah
Your favorite female role in theatre and why: Celie in The Color Purple. She reminds me of many of the strongest and closest women to me in my life who were given some of the worst life has to offer but blossomed like lotus flowers in spite of it all, and thus inspire me daily to do the same.
The song you listen to when you need some female empowerment: “Video” by India.Arie

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Morgan James Monica Simoes

Morgan James
The female artist you look up to: Nina Simone
Your favorite female role in theatre and why: Dot in Sunday in the park with George. She is courageous, spunky, imperfect; she is fearful and vulnerable, yet she does the hard thing anyway.
The song you listen to when you need some female empowerment: Aretha: “Respect”

Ingrid Michaelson
Ingrid Michaelson Nathan Johnson

Ingrid Michaelson
The female artist you look up to: Meryl Streep
Your favorite female role in theatre and why: Dot in Sunday in the Park with George because she is so nuanced. Bold and strong but also vulnerable and needs love and is not afraid to ask for it.
The song you listen to when you need some female empowerment: “Flawless” by Beyonce

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Liz Callaway Nella Vera

Liz Callaway
The female artist you look up to: Meryl Streep and Billie Jean King (maybe she’s not an artist per se, but I so admire her).
Your favorite female role in theatre and why: Sorry, I can’t pick just one. Lizzie in Baby, Dot in Sunday in the Park With George, and Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard—all three, strong, passionate, and complicated women.
The song you listen to when you need some female empowerment: In pop “You Don’t Own Me” and in theatre “Back to Before”

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Laura Bell Bundy and Christian Borle in Legally Blonde Paul Kolnik

Laura Bell Bundy
The female artist you look up to: Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, and Dolly Parton. And not because they were all in 9 to 5. They are all brilliant, powerful, outspoken, authentic women, who stand up for what they believe in. They have broken down barriers and stereotypes. They’ve built businesses, fought for women’s rights, and helped those in need. They have paved the way.
Your favorite female role in theatre and why: Besides Elle Woods, the girl that followed a boy to Harvard because she thought her value rested in marrying a man, and then found out that she was so much more than that? Who dealt with sexual harassment in the workplace and stood up for herself? Too on the nose? I also love the strength and tenacity in Gypsy’s Momma Rose. A victim of the time she was born in… a resilient visionary and fighter, she could have been a CEO if she were born today, but those opportunities did not exist for her, so she lived her dreams through her children. You could say it was selfish or you could say she had no other choice.
The song you listen to when you need some female empowerment: Beyonce’s “Girls, Run The World” and Dixie Chicks’ “Earl Had To Die”


Deborah S. Craig
Deborah S. Craig Dana Patrick Photography

Deborah S. Craig
The female artist you look up to: Impossible to narrow it down to one! There are so many incredible female artists! Current artistic obsessions/aspirations include Diana Oh, Leigh Silverman, Shonda Rhimes.
Your favorite female role in theatre and why: Angelica Schuyler from Hamilton. She sings, raps, looks out for her sisters, is generous in deed and action, loyal to a fault and, in romance, looks for “intelligent eyes,” “a mind at work,” and a love that is a “revelation.” She is a strong advocate for women’s rights by asking Thomas Jefferson to “include women in the sequel,” and historically speaking she did so much more! It is rare and beautiful and inspiring to see a leading role in musical theatre created for and originated by a woman of color who is simply playing a strong, complex American woman with no explanation as to why she is ethnic and no backstory explaining or identifying her as a minority. It is equally inspiring to see that role continually played by women of color across the country and around the world.
The song you listen to when you need some female empowerment: Sara Bareilles’ “Brave.” EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Sometimes twice a day.

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